Celebrating Israel’s Century-Long Special Relationship with Australia

Oct. 31 2017

Today is the centenary of the battle of Beersheba, in which the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps, serving under Britain’s General Edmund Allenby, took the city from Ottoman forces. Isi Leibler describes the battle, which he sees as the beginning of the consistently warm relations between Canberra and Jerusalem:

The battle of Beersheba . . . represented Australia’s first outstanding achievement as a fighting force, predating its [famed] Western-front victories of 1918. With the disaster at Gallipoli [two years earlier], where over 8,000 Australians needlessly lost their lives, many initially predicted that this attempt represented yet another example of military incompetence and cynical willingness to sacrifice soldiers. Beersheba was heavily fortified, and the battle was a last-ditch effort to defeat the Ottoman empire in the region.

Late on the afternoon of October 31, following an order by their commander, Sir Harry Chauvel, 800 Australian light horsemen galloped over two kilometers at top speed, directly into machine-gun fire, before dismounting and engaging in hand-to-hand combat. They overcame the Turkish defenders in less than an hour. Thirty Australian horsemen were killed and 36 wounded. Over 500 Turks were killed and 1,500 surrendered. It was a turning point in Allenby’s struggle to defeat the Ottomans in Palestine. . . .

Australia has constantly maintained a positive bipartisan relationship with Israel. . . . The Jewish community can claim much of the credit for this. Australian community leaders have not hesitated to confront their government on the rare occasions they considered it was applying double standards against Israel. The all-encompassing pro-Israel orientation of the Jewish community is undoubtedly a major factor contributing to the pro-Israel orientation of the mainstream political parties.

However, dark clouds are emanating from sectors of the Australian Labor party, whose former foreign minister Bob Carr has become a spokesman for extremist Arab causes. . . .

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Australia, Edmund Allenby, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, World War I

 

Israel Should Try to Defang Hamas without Toppling It

Feb. 22 2019

For the time being, Hamas has chosen to avoid outright war with the Jewish state, but instead to apply sustained, low-intensity pressure through its weekly border riots and organizing terrorist cells in the West Bank. Yet it is simultaneously engaged in a major military build-up, which suggests that it has not entirely been deterred by the previous three Gaza wars. Yaakov Lappin considers Jerusalem’s options:

In recent years, the Israel Defense Force’s southern command, which is responsible for much of the war planning for Gaza, identified a long-term truce as the best of bad options for Israel. This is based on the understanding that an Israeli invasion of Gaza and subsequent destruction of the Hamas regime would leave Israel in the unenviable position of being directly in charge of some two-million mostly hostile Gazans. This could lead to an open-ended and draining military occupation. . . .

Alternatively, Israel could demolish the Hamas regime and leave Gaza, putting it on a fast track to a “Somalia model” of anarchy and violence. In that scenario, . . . multiple jihadist armed gangs lacking a central ruling structure would appear, and Israel would be unable to project its military might to any single “return address” in Gaza. This would result in a loss of Israel’s deterrent force on Gaza to keep the region calm. This scenario would be considerably worse than the current status quo.

But a third option, in between the options of leaving Gaza as it is and toppling Hamas in a future war, may exist. In this scenario, the IDF would decimate Hamas’s military wing in any future conflict but leave its political wing and police force in place. This would enable a rapid Israeli exit after a war, but avoid a Somalia-like fate for Gaza with its destructive implications for both Israelis and Gazans. . . .

On the one hand, Hamas’s police force is an intrinsic support system for Gaza’s terrorist-guerrilla forces. On the other hand, the police and domestic-security units play a genuine role in keeping order. Such forces have been used to repress Islamic State-affiliated cells that challenge Hamas’s rule. . . . Compared to the alternative scenarios of indefinite occupation or the “Somalia scenario,” a weakened Hamas might be the best and most realistic option.

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Read more at BESA Center

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security